The world at its feet: Juggle the World receives first batch of fair trade soccer balls, continues to grow
A little more than a year has passed since Juggle the World got its start — and now it has something more than an idea to kick around. The company founded by former South Tahoe High soccer standout Leon Abravanel recently received its first batch of fair trade soccer balls, progress made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign.
“It’s been a really great experience,” Abravanel said. “It’s been a long process, but it’s all worth it in the end.”
Juggle the World’s crowdfunding campaign began last November, and raised nearly $12,000 in five months. That amount allowed the process of creating the globe-themed soccer balls to kick off — last month a package with 600 of them arrived in Los Angeles.
“Our balls are all fair trade, so there’s a whole different procedure when it comes to manufacturing fair trade — it’s a lot more rigorous and it’s a lot more expensive,” said Abravanel, a 2004 STHS alum. “It was amazing — the experience of learning how to do all of that.”
The process started with finding a fair trade manufacturer online. Once Abravanel located one in Sialkot, Pakistan, communication was exchanged at all hours over several months to create the ball modeled like a globe.
“The design was the most difficult piece, because it’s not a typical ball — it literally is a globe,” Abravanel said. “Getting the proportions and the design of the ball was difficult and we had to go back and forth multiple times.”
Abravanel said early designs had Spain connected to Africa, a non-existent Florida and South America (6.9 million square miles) drawn roughly the size of Hawaii (10,931 square miles). Eventually, the design was ironed out and Abravanel drove his truck to the airport to pick up the soccer balls — they’re currently being housed in the shower of an extra bathroom at his house.
The soccer balls are currently for sale in sizes 2, 4 and 5 on Juggle The World’s website. They start at $40, and each purchase leads to a ball being donated to inner city youth as part of a “buy one, give one” business model.
“We give the power of soccer to a kid that otherwise probably wouldn’t have it,” Abravanel said.
As Juggle the World got its start, outside support played a major role in its development. With the company moving forward, Abravanel expressed his appreciation for those that provided resources necessary to make that happen.
“The response that we got from family and friends, people from the community and people that just believed in our vision was pretty inspiring,” Abravanel said. “You never know if people are going to be inspired by what you’re doing, and it was really great to get some validation as far as what we’re doing and our mission.”
Juggle the World’s mission extends beyond selling and donating soccer balls. It currently has six soccer teams playing in Compton, Calif. under the JTW banner — another facet of the organization.
“It couldn’t be a better place to start — right down the street from where we train are three different projects that are considered to be some of the most dangerous,” Abravanel said. “These kids are living in extreme poverty, extreme violence with lots of drugs, diseases and gangs — it’s pretty much chaos.”
Along with that, Juggle the World is in the process of creating youth programs as part of what Abravanel calls an “ecosystem” around the game. Healthy Athletes will teach kids and parents how proper nutrition optimizes athletic performance while Young Coaches will provide leadership training to older players that leads them coaching positions within the program.
Juggle the World’s early impact has been felt primarily in California, but Abravanel expects that to change in the near future. While constantly focused on fundraising through donations, corporate sponsors and grants to continue expansion, a potential partnership with U.S. Soccer’s Diversity Task Force could help the startup reach new heights.
“We have so much further to go with this thing,” Abravanel said. “This is just the very beginning.”
Juggle the World is online at http://www.juggletheworld.com. More information about the company can be found on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @juggletheworld and on its YouTube page (Juggle the World).
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